‘State sponsor of terrorism’ countries to lose US visas

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new rules will no longer allow US citizens and people from 11 other countries to visit the country for up to 90 days It’s been a busy…

'State sponsor of terrorism' countries to lose US visas

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The new rules will no longer allow US citizens and people from 11 other countries to visit the country for up to 90 days

It’s been a busy week in the Donald Trump administration as the US implements new travel rules on the 11 countries where it says it cannot fully screen people to keep terrorists off its soil.

The US State Department issued a travel alert, saying potential travellers to America should expect delays and increased security at airports and ports of entry.

The new rules, announced in mid-June, mean citizens from Saudi Arabia, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iran, Chad, North Korea, Venezuela and Iraq will no longer be able to visit the US for up to 90 days.

The department said that countries which would be exempt from the rules included Australia, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands, and Israel.

The rules, one of the president’s first major travel changes since he took office in January 2017, apply to people aged 16 and above, and no longer allow those from the 11 countries to re-enter the US for seven years following their visit.

What’s the trouble?

The original announcement sparked anger from the American people, who see them as a blow to the country’s long-standing freedoms, who have seen their opportunities to travel and visit limited, and who have feared they could be inadvertently caught up in a Trump crackdown on immigration.

However, there was no immediate indication from the White House why the countries are being targeted.

All are designated by the US as state sponsors of terrorism, and experts had interpreted the exemption from the new rules as a concession to the previously targeted Middle Eastern countries, which came under a travel ban from other Western countries in April 2017.

Also, many of the countries have been put on the State Department’s list of countries with serious records of tax evasion and money laundering.

President Trump initially put them on the list in June 2017, branding them as “state sponsors of terrorism”.

Where has the US been giving exemptions?

Since he was sworn in, Mr Trump has signalled his intention to make changes to US policies to make it harder for immigrants to enter the country, whether it is because of how they look, their skills, their religious beliefs or the sex of their family.

His first two major moves to restrict travel have been to the country’s southern border, where his administration is building a wall and to the airlines, which were given a new set of immigration and customs rules which they had to abide by.

Who is against the new rules?

Advocacy groups and immigrant rights groups, as well as many of the Arab and Muslim nations, have lined up to protest.

US civil rights groups and human rights groups have also lodged a complaint with the US Civil Rights Commission, the country’s independent consumer protection agency, against the administration’s attempt to impose new immigration policies.

What’s the response?

The changes were welcomed by airlines and travel companies. American Airlines said the changes would “strengthen aviation security”, and added that they would “benefit the travelling public”, while Delta said the move would “allow for better and more consistent vetting processes”.

On 6 July, the hotel and tour booking service Airbnb also backed the White House’s approach, saying: “We’re always pleased to see enforcement of restrictions on visa-holders.”

What happens now?

The travel alert means there could be a rise in travel delays and therefore additional cost.

The secretary of state has the power to exempt nations from the new rules for a maximum of two years. In the absence of a waiver, citizens from those countries would have to apply for a visa within 30 days of arriving in the US.

If that does not happen, they would have to leave the country within 14 days or apply for entry through US commercial flights, or for entrance by commercial ships.

Leave a Comment